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News 13 Oct 17

Romania PM Forces Three Ministers to Quit

At the behest of Prime Minister Mihai Tudose, Romania’s ruling Social Democratic Party has endorsed the resignations of three ministers, allm of whom face allegations of wrongdoing.

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea (right) and Prime Minister Mihai Tudose after the six-hour party meeting on Thursday. Photo: Octav Ganea/Inquam Photos. 

Romania's ruling Social Democrat-led coalition on Friday approved a cabinet reshuffle proposed by Prime Minister Mihai Tudose after days of tense negotiations.

After a heated debate at the Social Democrat leadership meeting on Thursday, three ministers handed in their resignations, including Deputy Prime Minister Sevil Shhaideh and Minister for European Funds Rovana Plumb, both close allies of the party leader, Liviu Dragnea.

Both ministers are being investigated for abuse of office related to the allegedly unlawful transfer of an island on the Danube to the administration of the local county council, from where it was rented out to a private company for a very low fee.

Shhaideh and Plumb said they are innocent of all charges.

Transport Minister Razvan Cuc, who has been criticized by Tudose on several occasions for lack of progress in the construction of several highways, has also quit.

Tudose also wanted to fire the minister for relations with parliament, Viorel Ilie, who is under investigation for allegedly rigging a public servants' employment exam.

However, the Social Democrats' junior coalition partner, the Alliance of the Liberals and Democrats, ALDE, refused to back down over Ilie on Friday.

ALDE chief Calin Popescu Tariceanu said they would not allow the National Anti-Corruption Directorate to "dictate what to do with the government”.  Ilie has rejected graft accusations.

President Klaus Iohannis warned on Thursday that a new government crisis might raise questions about whether the Social Democrats, the PSD, were able to carry on governing.

“I believe the Prime Minister is a good man and he wants a competent team,” Iohannis said. “But if this cabinet were to fall, I’d seriously wonder if the PSD was still able to govern,” he added.

The PSD experienced a crisis in June, when it toppled its own government through a no-confidence vote in parliament, with former Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu refusing to resign. 

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